With the summer months heating up, many people head to the pool or lake to beat the heat. But you don’t have to leave your pets at home. Your dogs can join in the fun too, provided you take a few precautions. Here are some tips to keep your dogs safe this summer.
- Start shallow. Not all dogs like the water, and some breeds are not built for swimming. If you don’t know how your dog will react to the water, start out in a more controlled environment like a pool or on the shore of a lake or river. If he seems reluctant or immediately swims back to the shore, maybe water isn’t for him. Don’t force the issue. You could end up scaring him, and a scared dog is not a happy dog.
- Lessons. It is incorrect to think that all dogs instinctively know how to “dog paddle.” If you notice your dog is struggling to swim, hop in the pool and give him some lessons. An inexperienced swimmer will often paddle with their front paws only, letting their back legs sink deeper into the water. This creates a very upright position with lots of splashing and not much movement. You can help out by holding up your dog’s back legs as he swims. He’ll get the hang of using all four paws. Also, make sure there are easy ways for your dogs to get in and out of the water. When your pet is just learning how to swim, consider using a flotation device and lead to keep him safe and nearby.
- Safety. Swimming will tire out a dog very quickly. Start with short swims and see how he does. Also understand that if your dog does get worn out from swimming he is prone to panic. A panicked dog will try to climb onto anything and anyone to get out of the water, even a rescuer. Keep some flotation devices handy and toss one out to your dog before you swim out to help. The dog will grab hold of the float allowing you to safely get him back to the shore.
- Often times, being on the water means being in the sun. Make sure you bring enough water for your pets, and if possible, provide them with a shady spot to cool off. Always keep an eye on your dogs in the water and make sure they don’t get too far away from you.
There’s no reason why your dogs can’t enjoy the water with you and your family. If you keep a close eye on them and look out for the warning signs, you can keep your dogs safe in and out of the water this summer.